Ex-Ambassador: Israel Wary Amid Mideast Shift

Saturday, 12 Feb 2011 08:49 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel Edward Walker says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though worried about Egypt's political transition, is probably more concerned about what might happen in Jordan, which recently has been hit with street Ex-Ambassador: Israel Wary Amid Mideast Shiftprotests organized by Islamic radicals.

Walker told MSNBC that Egypt will hold to the peace treaty it signed with Israel in 1979 at Camp David, because the military, which is now in control, “finds it’s in its interest.” But the civilian unrest in Jordan, is probably keeping Israel’s prime minister awake at night.

Netanyahu is “damn worried about Egypt, and he’s even probably more worried about Jordan, both of which are, of course, the treaty members, and both of which can totally change and stress his military,” Walker told Chris Matthews on “Hardball” Friday.

Walker said he believed Israel has already held discussions with the Egyptian military.

“The legitimate authority is the supreme military council. And they have taken over the powers of the presidency,” he said. “I would be surprised if the Israeli military wasn’t already talking to the military in Egypt, because, after all, they have to coordinate on the Gaza border, for one thing.”

In Jordan, after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down Friday, hundreds gathered outside the Egyptian embassy in Amman to voice their support. The demonstration was organized by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Walker said, despite the demonstrations, the radical Islamic threat, and internal criticism of Jordan’s Queen Raina, the people still have tremendous respect for the Hashemite kingdom’s King Abdullah, who was a member of the country’s special forces.

Returning to Egypt, Matthews asked what are the chances the country – which has been notorious for corrupt parliamentary elections – will be able to form decent political parties and provide the public with real options, before planned September elections.

“Chris, you’ve got to be kidding me. You can’t do that. It’s not possible to do it in that time frame,” Walker said. They are going to have to find a way to extend the process, so that they can put themselves together. I think they can do it, but it will take longer.

“It will be OK with [the] people if they see some things that happen in the meantime, such as changes to the constitution, such as the beginning of forming of parties, such as bringing civilians into the decision-making process,” he added. “So, it’s a process.”

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